PCI (EU energy projects): Massive impacts & big controversies

European Energy Infrastructure: Massive impacts & big controversies

Climate change action and specifically the substantial increase of renewable energy to be deployed in Europe make it indispensable to accelerate the expansion of the European power grid. Full grid integration shall further ensure security of supply within Europe. At the same time Justice & Environment claims that power lines, hydro-pumped storages, LNG terminals and the like should be

  • environmentally sound,

  • constructed only at appropriate places, and

  • corresponding to the actual needs.

That is why we advocate for strategic energy planning both on the national and the European level accompanied by Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs).

The European Union (EU) has long spoken out for reducing the carbon footprint of its energy sector and for increasing its competitiveness, affordability and energy security. To this end, the EU has identified 12 priority corridors for electricity, gas, oil and CO2 transport networks, and is promoting projects to implement them.

These Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) will benefit from faster permit granting and are eligible for public funding. Once selected as a PCI, a project – including those that are environmentally, socially and financially risky – can apply for subsidies from a special EU Fund as well as from national governments. Once at this point, it is difficult to stop a project from being implemented even if it does not comply with the foregoing three conditions. Yet, some selected projects violate EU environmental law and will have devastating impacts on local communities:

EU citizens and environmental stakeholders can get involved!

The PCI selection process is open to public participation: An online “Transparency Platform” shall ensure that important information is publicly shared, parts of the Regional Group Meetings are open for public participation and an online consultation on candidate PCIs is carried out by the European Commission. For very conflictive projects EC has even held separate Workshops in the past, were projects are discussed between Government representatives, project promoters, and environmental stakeholders.


Justice & Environment works for improving public participation and information sharing in the PCI selection process.

  • Public and environmental concerns should be taken into due account when selecting the EU’s priority infrastructure projects.

We participate in Regional Group Meetings, we assess PCI Cases and show deficiencies, we issue recommendations for the improvement of the selection process, we follow legal proceedings and provide legal advice to the public.

PCIs are selected over a 2-year cycle when projects are re-assessed and a new list is adopted:

Union list of Projects of Common Interest 2015

Further Information:

Other publications on PCI:


This case was compiled for you by Birgit Schmidhuber, Austria

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